|The Rightful Owner
DeLaet, 39, was nominated by a neighbor with adjoining land in Portage County. Both neighbors had hunting groups on their land during the 2020 opening day of the gun deer season.
“For the second year in a row, about noon, I had a wounded deer come past my stand,” DeLaet said. “This buck was limping badly, and I could see fresh blood by his shoulder.”
DeLaet shot this buck, which dropped near his property line. He then sent his neighbor, Ed Hildebrand, a text and photograph of the deer, asking if anyone in their party had shot a buck.
“I got a message back immediately saying a neighbor had shot a buck and had lost the blood trail,” DeLaet said. “My dad taught me to go by the rule of first blood.”
After a short time, the neighbors from the other party came to where DeLaet shot the deer. DeLaet’s neighbor identified the deer as the one she shot.
“DeLaet is the kind of neighbor every hunter wished they had nearby,” Hildebrand said. “He is a fellow hunter who understands that the way hunters interact with each other can determine whether a hunt becomes a happy memory or a terrible one.”
The rule of first blood that DeLaet referred to gives a hunter who first wounded an animal claim to the harvest no matter if another hunter deals a fatal shot afterward.
“This is another perfect example of ethical hunting behavior,” Lamb said. “It may have been this woman’s first-ever deer or the first deer in a long time. If so, it would have left a bad taste in her mouth had she not been able to recover the deer. Regardless, Troy’s ethical behavior is one for all to follow.”
In each scenario, these ethical hunters were kind, respectful and understanding and put the other outdoors users on an equal basis.
Any Wisconsin hunter is eligible to be nominated by another individual, regardless if they are a hunter or not. Nominations for the 2021 award are due Jan. 31, 2022.
Submit nominations by email or letter explaining what the ethical act was to:
The Department of Natural Resources
c/o April Dombrowski, DNR Recreational Safety Section Chief
101 S. Webster St., P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921 Email: April.Dombrowski@wisconsin.gov
For more information regarding the nomination process and the award, contact April Dombrowski, Hunter Ethics Committee chairperson, at April.Dombrowski@wisconsin.gov or 608-852-9456.